Feeling overwhelmed as you start and grow your business?
Let’s unpack that feeling.
It’s normal to be excited when you’re starting a business. And, of course you’re excited. You want to get your business off the ground as quickly as possible, right?
But, sometimes, that energy creates some unnecessary pressure.
You start telling yourself a story that all of this has to be done at once.
What happens next is predictable.
You get overwhelmed and then back off – sometimes giving up way too early – then you slump on the couch, and do nothing in order to recover from the stress.
It’s like you tried to eat an elephant in a single bite and then were surprised that you couldn’t.
There’s a lot to do, but don’t eat the elephant.
As an aspiring entrepreneur, you need to plan your attack or you’ll quickly be overwhelmed and back on the couch.
BEING AT THE BEGINNING
If any of that resonates with you, you’re not alone.
I have personally taken on too much, too fast – and I’ve done so multiple times in my life, whether at work, starting projects at home, or while building 321 Liftoff.
There’s always so much to do.
I tend to put pressure on myself to get it all done – even if it’s truly optional. For me, it’s not about doing it perfectly. It’s more about magically being at the end in an instant. It’s wanting to just be there already, which leaves me feeling stuck.
Of course, when you stand back and look at that idea objectively, it’s absurd.
However, I’ve come to realize a pretty simple truth:
There is nothing wrong with being at the beginning, so there’s no need to rush.
Instead, it’s actually an advantage – because it’s an opportunity to design what comes next with intention.
You might still feel pressure to make the change happen quickly. Great, use that as fuel to work steadily toward your goal.
- What you want to do is not impossible.
- New things take time to build.
- You can work your way forward with experiments.
- And, taking care of yourself will help you be successful in the long-run.
BREAK THE ELEPHANT DOWN
So, rather than fling yourself into action and do everything all at once, briefly hit pause and rethink your approach.
Consider breaking your work down into small, digestible pieces – things you can tackle a little at a time, over time.
Master one element of the work, build a foundation, and then layer new things together as you gain proficiency. Trust me, small things will add up over time.
Recognize that when your to-do list is swirling around in your head, it all might feel urgent and important. But, of course, it is not. You need to say no to some things – at least for now. And, that’s step one – just acknowledge it can’t all get done right away.
OVERWHELMED? TRY A BACKLOG
Instead of diving into any task at random, create a backlog and pull tasks from it.
A backlog is a list of all the tasks needed to support a larger strategic plan – things that have to be done at some point.
For example, if you’re starting a business, tasks like pricing, advertising, building a website, and everything in between.
The intent of a backlog is to make work visible – because once it’s out of your head and physically in front of you, each task becomes tangible and, therefore, something you can be objective about.
That way, you can critically weigh things like: dependencies, sequencing, impact, amount of work involved, and more.
There are a lot of ways to do this, but I’d recommend keeping it really simple by grabbing a pad of sticky notes and a maker.
Get all of those things – and anything else on your mind – on sticky notes.
Don’t judge your stickies. Don’t get hung up on your word choices. Let your mind flow freely.
Next, pick up one sticky note and ask yourself questions, like: what has to happen before this?
For example, if you want to run a marathon, do you have the right shoes?
Then, make another sticky note: buy shoes. Actually, there might be another task before that one: research shoes. You know what, I have a few friends who have run marathons, so: ask friends about their running shoes.
This doesn’t have to be exhaustive to be effective. Consider yourself done when you feel noticeably lighter or when you feel like you’re forcing it.
I like to use the 20 minute rule. Is this task something I can do in the next 20 minutes? No? Well, then how do I break it apart further?
Finally, limit yourself to picking just a few of these smaller tasks each day. Let go of the idea that you can get it all done today.
- What’s most urgent and important?
- What’s a small thing you could do today that would make other things possible?
- How will I know I’m done? How might I define success today?
DON’T EAT THE ELEPHANT
This is a process I return to often to help me break big projects down into smaller pieces. And, I’ve helped clients do the same – this is consistently one of their favorite exercises.
The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, hit pause, take a deep breath, and plan an approach that sets you up for success.
Zoom out, reflect, and prioritize. Don’t eat the elephant. Break it down into pieces.
The ideas shared in this article are pieces of a bigger process I explore in my eBook: How to Prioritize & Make-Decisions Like An Entrepreneur – which is based on client-favorite activities to break the obstacles in your path. Learn more here.
And, while you’re here, grab a free resource to help you create, cultivate, and capture an entrepreneur’s mindset (use button below).
ONE MORE THING
Starting and growing a business is not a straight line.
It can feel messy – it zigs and zags, it starts and stops. It can feel frustrating even for the most seasoned business owners. And, that’s ok.
It’s also an exciting challenge. It’s going to stretch you. You’re going to learn a lot – not just about business, but about yourself.
And, that’s why it’s worth it.